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Poster: grendelschoice Date: Apr 27, 2007 7:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Help Get a brother out of jail??????

The worst abuses of the drug sentencing laws can actually be traced back to the death of burgeoning basketball star at the Univ. of Maryland (TERRAPINS (!) Len Bias in 1986...

His cocaine overdose was national news and shortly thereafter a series of truly draconian drug laws were pushed through Congress with a kind of hysteria and disregard for the facts and the future that has only come to bite everyone on the ass in the past few years.

The "3 strikes" laws put people who had previously committed very minor crimes in the Kafka-esque position of being railroaded into looooooong prison sentences for the "next" offense. These were not violent criminals, but people who had been arrested for drug possession, motor vehicle lapses, and the like. Yes, they made mistakes and committed crimes, but were sentenced to 20+ year jail terms stricter than many rapists and violent felons were serving.

Worse still was the clearly racist provision that crack cocaine users (read: black, inner city dwellers) were to be sentenced to far lengthier sentences than people caught with powdered cocaine (read: rich, white suburbanites). Same exacr drug, different forms, vastly unfair discrepancies in sentencing.

What this of course resulted in was overcrowding of prisons throughout the country, increases in kids from the poorest families growing up in their formative years without fathers, and now, those same people about to come out of those sentences with nowhere to go and nothing to do but return to a life of crime. Unless of course, their time in prison has rehabilitated them, and anyone who believes that's the case, please stand on your head.

Until serious drug addiction problems are treated as health problems rather than criminal problems, we're never going to get in right.

Drug reform laws are needed, but no politician has the guts to say so even if they believe it, because it's political suicide at the polls (i,.e. being seen as "soft" on crime).

Much more minor side note to all this: The death of Bias was also the death of the Boston Celtics as the premier NBA franchise. He was slated to go to the C's when he died, and 1986 is the last year the Celtics won a championship.

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